Dear Publication Advisors

The Line Between Truth and Fiction

Dear Publication Advisors,

I’m writing a memoir. I remember the events of my life extremely well, however, I don’t remember everything. Sometimes, if I read a memoir I really like, I notice they use dialogue. Are they remembering the exact dialogue they had five or twenty five years ago or are they lying? What is the line between truth and fiction?


Walking The line


Dear Walking The Line,

There are whole classes devoted to this issue. From talking to various writers, the exact method of memoir varies depending on the author.

Imagine a situation where you and several friends are eating lunch at a local restaurant. You each order separate meals. You discuss different topics. Is each person going to have the exact same memory of that specific situation?

Some people might remember certain conversations and not others. Some people might remember having one thing for lunch while others may remember them as having something else.

In general, as long as the big picture idea is the same, the details matter less. In order to write the most accurate depiction of events, it’s best to interview as many people as possible who were there at the time.

If your memoir gets published, the publishing house should have rules or at least guidelines on how to navigate truth and story. The line doesn’t have to be examined alone.


Publishing Advisor

Rebecca Lee